Pakistan-Zimbabwe Game to Proceed Despite Suicide Bombing at Match Venue

Pakistani cricket fans watch the second one-day international between Pakistan and Zimbabwe at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, Friday | AP

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — The Pakistan Cricket Board says the third and final one-day international against Zimbabwe will go ahead on Sunday at the Gaddafi Stadium despite security concerns after a suicide bomber blew himself up close to the stadium on Friday night during the second ODI.

"The incident hasn't affected the tour and Zimbabwe will play its last match of the tour as planned," PCB spokesman Agha Akbar told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Akbar also said that all the tickets for Sunday's game have been sold out and a crowd of around 27,000 is expected.

Officials of PCB and security authorities will be meeting with Zimbabwe team management and players later on Saturday.

"We heard a blast during the match yesterday. We do not know what it was," Zimbabwe team spokesman Lovemore Banda said.

"We have held a team meeting to inform everyone that our hosts are coming this afternoon to talk to us about the incident."

Information minister Pervez Rashid told Geo TV that a police officer was killed and six were wounded in the incident which occurred nearly one kilometer from the stadium.

A loud explosion was heard inside the stadium, but the game didn't stop as Pakistan won it by six wickets and took an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Initially, police claimed the explosion was caused by electric transformer, in an apparent bid to avoid panic inside the stadium where at least 20,000 spectators were watching the game.

Thousands of policemen had been deployed outside the stadium and spectators had to endure several checkpoints while waiting in long queues hours before the start of the day/night matches at 4:00 p.m. local time (1100 GMT).

Zimbabwe is the first test-playing nation to tour Pakistan in six years since gunmen attacked on Sri Lanka team bus — also in Lahore — in 2009. Six police officials and a van driver were killed during the ambush while wounding several Sri Lanka players.

Eager to avoid a repeat of that incident and push the case for a full return of international cricket to the country, Pakistan's government has provided VIP-level security to Zimbabwe's team. A fleet of security vans with armed gunmen shield the team buses during their travel from hotel to the stadium. Zimbabwe arrived on May 19 to play two Twenty20s and three ODIs.

The International Cricket Council has given official status to the series, but declined to send its match officials to Pakistan due to security concerns.



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